Auckland's median weekly rent cracked $600 for the first time in October, an increase of 5 percent compared to the same month last year, according to Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index.
Rents in the Auckland region have been edging closer to the $600 mark since the beginning of 2021, Trade Me's property sales director, Gavin Lloyd, said on Friday.
"We saw the region's median weekly rent stagnant at $590 from January right through to June, before it climbed to $595 in July where it sat tight right up until last month."
The increase will likely serve a crushing blow for tenants, many of whom are facing financial hardship due to the ongoing restrictions in Auckland to curb the spread of COVID-19. The region was plunged into lockdown in mid-August after a person tested positive for the highly infectious and deadly Delta variant. Since then, the outbreak has infected 6334 people, with businesses still closed and a raft of public health measures still in place three months' later.
"It's likely the price increase comes down to pent-up demand after alert level 4 brought the market to a halt in August. As soon as the rules were eased last month, many Auckland renters were keen to get a move on and we saw rental market activity spike," Lloyd said.
North Shore City was the most expensive area for renters in Auckland, the average weekly bill sitting at $650. The northern suburbs were followed by Rodney at $640, with Papakura cracking $625 last month. Auckland City and Waitakere City were the only two districts in the region with median weekly rents below $600, with both sitting at $595.
Demand in the Auckland region was down by 4 percent year-on-year in October, Lloyd said, while supply was also down 4 percent.
National rent sees a new high
New Zealand's national median weekly rent also had a record-breaking month, reaching a new high of $560 in October - an increase of 8 percent year-on-year.
"Around the country we saw a 3 percent increase in demand for rentals last month when compared with October last year," Lloyd said.
On the other hand, the number of rentals on the market took a downturn in October, compared to the same month in 2020. Supply was down 7 percent nationwide, with the biggest drops seen in Nelson/Tasman (-41 percent) Bay of Plenty (-27 percent) Canterbury (-25 percent).
Looking ahead, Lloyd said it's likely rental prices will continue to increase as summer approaches.
"Summer tends to be the time of year that we see the most activity in the market, so unfortunately for renters, we may well see prices climb even higher yet before the year is over."
Wellington rents reach $620
Rents in the capital also reached an all-time high in October, with Wellington's median weekly rent increasing by 11 percent year-on-year to $620.
Looking at Wellington City, the median weekly rent was $645 last month, making it one of the most expensive districts in the region, along with Porirua at $650 and Upper Hutt at $610.
Demand for rentals in the region was up by 13 percent last month compared to the same month in 2020, while supply was down by 5 percent.
The most popular rental in the region last month was a three-bedroom apartment on Normanby Street, Newtown, for $650 per week. The property received 92 enquiries within the first two days of it being listed.
Record high rents for small and medium properties
Lloyd said large properties with five-plus bedrooms were the only property type that did not see an all-time high median rent last month. Comparatively, both small properties - one to two bedrooms - and medium-sized properties - three to four bedrooms - reached a record high median weekly rent in October.
New records for townhouse and unit rents
Urban properties saw rent increases across the board in October, with the exception of apartments.
"The median weekly rents for urban properties (apartments, townhouses and units) in Wellington saw the largest year-on-year percentage change last month, up 10 percent when compared with October last year," Lloyd said.
The Trade Me Property Rental Price Index is produced from Trade Me Property data of properties that have been rented in the month by property managers and private landlords. On average, more than 11,000 properties are rented each month.
The index is calculated using the rounded median rent in the month - this being an accurate statistical assessment of the current rent being charged by landlords and property managers.